Friday roundup: A week in tech

By Max Salsbury

Butter-fingered Google lost several million of its IP addresses this week – and you’ll have to continue reading this story if you want to find out more.

Monday’s event, which lasted over an hour, saw the firm’s omnipresent search function and a number of other services disappear, an occurrence that surely made some younger net users who have grown up in Google’s loving embrace swoon (it’d be like me waking up and finding there was no sky, or toast).

Anyway, though the tech monster has said nothing malicious was behind the micro-meltdown, some are suspicious because the incident led to traffic being misdirected to China Telecom, the friendly communications outfit owned by the friendly Chinese government.

Would you like a big heap of technical spiel? Why not – it’s Friday!

The leak begun when a small ISP in Nigeria called MainOne Cable Company uploaded tables into the internet’s global routing system, improperly declaring that its autonomous system 37282 was the proper path to reach some of Google’s 212 IP prefixes.

I hope that’s clear?

Good. Shortly after, China Telecom improperly accepted the route and told the world, which led to the Russian-based Transtelecom and others to also follow the route.

Worryingly, the redirected IPs sent out some of Google’s most sensitive stuff including its corporate WAN infrastructure and its VPN.

But the firm isn’t bothered. In a statement, Google representatives nonchalantly wrote: ‘We’re aware that a portion of internet traffic was affected by incorrect routing of IP addresses, and access to some Google services was impacted. The root cause of the issue was external to Google and there was no compromise of Google services.’

***

Sticking with China, the country has unveiled a virtual newsreader that can deliver government-endorsed b******t 24 hours a day.

The AI anchor has been crafted to mimic the facial movements and voice of a real human being, and can ‘read out’ whatever is typed into its ‘brain’.

Xinhua, China’s state news service, said that the thing could come into its own during breaking news updates, perhaps such as:

‘This just in – Chinese government best government ever says survey’

‘Voting booths open tomorrow – remember to stay in and not vote’

‘Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia’

The digital abomination has been modelled on real life presenter Zhang Zhao who is, I assume, presently keeping a close eye on the job ad pages.

Michael Wooldridge, professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, told the BBC that it’s ‘quite difficult to watch for more than a few minutes. It’s very flat, very single-paced, it’s not got rhythm, pace or emphasis,’ – before adding ‘but that’s enough about Piers Morgan, show me this Chinese virtual presenter’.

***

Now, here’s a messed-up heap of a story, if it’s true: wretched Facebook has allegedly been at it AGAIN – this time by attempting to smear its critics by erroneously linking them to the billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

According to the New York Times, the squalid social media enterprise hired PR firm Definers Public Affairs to compose and publish negative articles about rival big tech outfits, in an effort to distract attention from Facebook’s own bulging catalogue of putrid incompetence.

And, again allegedly, one of the PR firm’s tactics was to suggest that groups critical of Facebook, such as Freedom from Facebook and Color of Change, are secretly backed by Mr Soros, the current bogeyman responsible for a majority of the world’s wrongs in the minds of a wide range of anti-Semitic nutcases.

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change’s executive director, called the antics ‘outrageous and concerning,’ as well he might.

Facebook’s compliant PR firm published its sub-Pravda drivel on NTKNetwork.com, which is designed to look like a real news site but is actually owned by Definers Public Affairs. These ‘stories’ were then picked up by right-wing ‘news’ sites like Breibart, which gleefully spread them further afield, like a burst sewer pipe spraying steaming effluence across the land.

Can you imagine? All this just to cover the backside of a business that mainly exists to host people’s boring anecdotes and cat photographs.

Despite ridiculing the firm for its many indiscretions in countless Friday roundups, it doesn’t appear that Facebook and its PR lapdogs have attempted to smear me with a Soros connection. It’s almost as if they’re completely unaware of this blog!

Anyhow, real journalists have written it all up properly here, and it’s well worth a read.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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